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Sarachan takes over on bench for suspended Arena; Meola replaces
injured Friedel as backup keeper.

By Robert Wagman

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Tuesday, October 10, 2000) -- United States men’s assistant coach Dave Sarachan will assume bench duties tomorrow night, substituting for suspended head coach Bruce Arena when the U.S. squares off against Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier here.

Arena is beginning a three-match suspension for angry remarks made after a controversial hand-ball call in injury time that allowed Costa Rica to defeat the U.S. in their match in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Under the terms of the suspension, Arena may not have contact with the team once it reaches the stadium for tomorrow’s match. He can physically be present in the stands, but not in the lockerroom or on the bench. He remains in charge of preparing the team for the match and he has been running practices.

What is a bit ambiguous in the suspension ruling is whether he might be in contact with the bench during the match, possibly by cell phone, radio or even handwritten messages.

In any event, Arena said he is not worried about the situation because most of his job is done before the team takes the field, and because he and Sarachan have been together for so long they think alike when it comes to soccer strategy.

Sarachan was an Arena assistant at the University of Virginia from 1984-1988 before Sarachan went off to become head coach at Cornell for nine seasons. He then rejoined Arena at D.C. United in Major League Soccer. Sarachan stayed at D.C. United for the 1999 season when Arena took over the national team before becoming a full-time U.S. assistant.

"This is not a big deal," Sarachan said. "This team is well prepared by Bruce. We'll be fine."

This is not the first time Sarachan has substituted for a red-carded Bruce Arena. In a memorable U.Va. match against North Carolina State, Arena was handed his walking papers by the referee and Sarachan took over on the bench for the Cavaliers who overcame a two-goal deficit to earn a tie.

After the match when everyone was congratulating Sarachan on the draw, a laughing Arena approached and said, "What, I give you the team and you can't win."

A training injury has sidelined reserve goalkeeper Brad Friedel who will be replaced by Tony Meola.

Friedel aggravated a left foot injury he picked up while with the U.S. Olympic team in Sydney for the Summer Games.

Friedel recently nixed a loan from his British club Liverpool to Germany and is now trying to secure a work permit which would allow him to move to the Blackburn Rovers.

Meola, a candidate for Major League Soccer "Most Valuable Player" after a record-breaking season with the Kansas City Wizards joined the U.S. team this afternoon.

With 1,170 temporary seats added to sold-out Columbus Crew Stadium, the facility’s record attendance of 24,741 could be surpassed. The current record of 24,741 was set on May 15, 1999, for the stadium's inaugural match.

"We are hoping that this event will establish a new all-time Crew Stadium attendance mark and the crowd will include fans from 37 different states, the District of Columbia and five countries," said Crew Stadium General Manager Mark McCullers. "We are anticipating an extremely enthusiastic and festive pro-U.S. atmosphere."

Senior correspondent Robert Wagman can be e-mailed at bobwagman@soccertimes.com.

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